Proscout
Complaint Letters


To Whom It May Concern:

I have been selected by Proscout to go to the convention and already paid the large amount of money. I have now heard so much about it being a scam. I really hope you know if it's true. I was so excited and my hopes were high, but now I just don't know.

Please help.

Thanks!

A.


A.,

How much did you pay? One person said they charge $300. Is that correct? Or is it a lot more? You said you already paid the large amount of money. The website didn't mention the price.

The Proscout website said:

Our success and reputation is based upon reliable, safe, and inexpensive principles. Compared to any other way of meeting professional caliber agencies, ProScout is quicker, faster, and less expensive than any other sensible method of getting started.

It would be interesting to see how they try to substantiate those statements, because several things don't seem right. How "reliable" are modeling conventions when only about 2% of those who go are signed?

A number often cited for convention success rates is 2-5%. Proscout itself does not say their success rate is higher. The conventions themselves may be "safe," but where do they get "inexpensive" from? You said you paid a "large amount of money."

Not sure exactly what the difference is between "quicker" and "faster," but, compared to the other sensible ways of being discovered like visiting agencies and attending open calls, or sending Polaroids, ProScout is evidently not less expensive. If it is less expensive, why isn't the price featured prominently on their website?

Supermodels like Cindy Crawford were not found by Proscout. She is a sensible woman and when she was much younger she spent a day visiting modeling agencies in Chicago with her father. Basically all it cost was the price of the gas. Have you ever thought of visiting top agencies with your father/mother?

Proscout's advertising or discovery guide (How to get discovered) was also misleading. There are a lot of people throughout the modeling industry (modeling agencies, modeling photographers, modeling agents, models, scouts and modeling scouting businesses) who would disagree with the following statement:

Getting discovered in the real world requires meeting established agencies from one of the "major market cities." Basically, there [are] just three ways this can happen: 1. Pure luck, 2. Hard work on your own, and 3. ProScout.
 
Here's what you can expect from each.
 
1. Pure Luck: For luck to get you discovered, small miracles must happen. First, you must bump into a legitimate "major city" agent. Anyone else other than a major agency is likely to end up pitching you classes, pictures, etc.
 
2. Hard Work on your own: This takes more money, knowledge, and persistence than most people have patience for. First, you must know what specific agents your type should pursue. Next you must invest time and expense to get the right materials to them to get noticed. Whatever route you take, you are "doing it yourself" and classes, photos, phone calls, and follow-up mailings can easily cost you $500 to $5,000. After all this work, you'll still have to meet these agents in person, so cap it off with travel expenses (it all comes down to meeting them in person —there's no other way around it).
 
3. ProScout: Simply put, ProScout is designed to bring the agent interviews to you, while providing help and guidance throughout the process. Our expert scouts are there each step of the way to enlighten, guide, and assist you in maximizing your contacts. Think of us as your "agent to the agents." Our track record proves it —our process is extremely effective. To begin your discovery process, simply show up at a ProScout free Open Call Interview, or submit your photo to be scouted online.

The statement "basically, there [are] just three ways this can happen" is unbelievable.

Proscout advertising talks about "weekend events," "invitational weekends," or just "invitationals." Other terms scouting companies use include "expo" or "showcase" and national modeling forum. They are trying to avoid the dreaded 'c' word. Convention.

The radio advertising for one scouting business which evidently recognized the reputation of modeling conventions, said, "Are you tired of those modeling conventions?"

Modeling conventions have a bad reputation, generally speaking, not because the convention isn't fun, informative, professionally organized, and a nice vacation, but because of the low success rates.

See if you can find the success rates of Proscout on their website. Let's say the success rate is the percentage of people who show up at their modeling conventions who actually get signed by a respectable modeling agency.

The best scouting companies and scouts make their money from a finder's fee (5-15%). It's like the best modeling agencies, who make their money on a commission (5-25%). The modeling industry works best for everyone on commissions. It is much easier to respect those who make their money from commission.

"ProScout is generally recognized as the industry's most respected scouting organization." That's a bold statement, but Proscout is not the only company which makes that claim.

A question similar to yours in an online forum received the following response:

Of the model conventions, I would rate Proscout the highest. They do bring in the scouts, where other conventions bring in the agency receptionists.
 
It's my feeling that anyone who is really interested in getting into modeling should go to the cities and make the rounds.
 
If you can't do that, then hit Proscout rather than the accursed $4,500 blunder known as IMTA. Proscout is only $300, I think.
 
Look at this realistically. Do you really stand a chance in the major markets? Look through the mags, and be honest. Proscout is in this to make money, and just because you pay, doesn't mean that you're going to get picked up. Only 2% do.

If only 2% of the Proscout modeling convention attendants get signed, what does that tell you about Proscout? What kind of scouts are they if their success rate is only 2%? "Experts?" See if you can get Proscout to give you their number (success rate).

The number is not very difficult to figure out. They should have a record of the people who registered and attended their modeling conventions. Surely they also have the numbers of all the aspiring models who attended the conventions and were signed.

All you need are those two numbers. Then divide the total number of models signed with respectable agencies by the total registrations; and multiply by 100 to get the success rate.

Example:

Models signed: 494
Registrations: 20,023

Success Rate: 2.46%

The head of one modeling agency has said he thinks Proscout is too liberal in its selections, which might start to explain low success rates:

As far as my feelings about conventions, I do like them. I just expect things to be done legitimately. Conventions are a great way to be seen by a lot of scouts in a short period of time. I don't like ProScout since you don't really have a great chance to be seen. Plus, they also accept a lot of people who have no chance. Furthermore, they distort people's view of local markets. I can say that based on having witnessed it firsthand.

One complaint about model search businesses in general is they secretly work with modeling schools, selling them personal information or a mailing list.

A model who was involved with Proscout said: "John Casablancas recruiters called my house and said they were given my information by Proscout."

The organization of John Casablancas many people consider extreme. The claim is it has high prices and low success rates but it accepts a lot of people who have no chance.

There is a similarity in the complaints levelled against both John Casablancas and Proscout, which could explain why they would work together, and why Proscout would sell or give information about models to John Casablancas.

Insider information from someone who claimed to work for an unnamed model search business, but was planning to leave, supported this:

My heart breaks for those who question, "Is it worth the fee?" For a small number of you it really is. But for most of you, it is not. Most of you figure out what it's all about after you’ve attended a convention, expo or showcase or whatever.
 
So, here’s the scoop:
 
When you first arrive at an open call you fill out a form to be considered by the "professional" scouts. Well, just so you know, we turn around and sell your names to modeling schools. So be prepared to get a phone call or email from someone trying to sell you classes or photography.

Another solid response to the general Proscout question:

I don't know about this company in particular, but they are probably all about the same. They cast a wide net and reel in a few dozen (or a few hundred) eager young girls, and charge them several hundred dollars to be seen by a few agents. Occasionally one gets picked up by a real agency, and these success stories are endlessly hyped to the next crop of hopefuls.
 
Being told by their scout that you're beautiful means absolutely nothing. As long as your parents are willing to pay, you're invited, even if you are short, fat, and ugly with terminal acne. And you'll probably be "selected" for the next round, which costs more —much more.
 
If you really are model material, 5'10" or taller, 16 or younger, thin, not just beautiful but photogenic, with high cheekbones, large eyes, full lips, perfect skin, and some measure of ability, you won't have any trouble at all being discovered.
 
Also nearly all agencies have a day or half day regularly where they will see virtually anyone who shows up, again, for free. You don't need a fancy portfolio, or even professional photos. A few snapshots will do, and if you're really spectacular, you don't even need those. If you've got the stuff, they'll handle the rest.

The "ProScout Invitationals" are held at what appear to be the most expensive hotels. Why? Did you ever stop and ask yourself, Why do modeling conventions have to be held at the Hilton?

In the end, if you do not get discovered, but a few others do get signed, you just paid for them to be signed.

There is a story about how one girl was discovered. She went to a modeling convention with a friend, but she did not pay, she just "went along for the ride." Her friend who paid a lot of money to attend the convention was not signed, but an agent at the convention saw her and signed *her*!

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to warn all the aspiring actors and models about Proscout and NYMC.

After seeing an advertisement on TV for Proscout, I thought it would be a good idea to attend their open call, since I was from a small town, and not near any big cities to access any agencies.

The open call was free, of course, but in order to attend a showcase, it was close to $400.

I was chosen, so I went, even though I had to drive several hours to attend the Proscout convention in a big city.

There were probably about at least a 1,000 people there who right along with me had hopes of being discovered.

They don't tell you until you're at the showcase that your money is non-refundable, and that you don't get one-on-one meetings with any of the modeling agency reps.

For your money you get one full day of speeches from supposed reputable models and important people from the industry.

The next day, you finally get to meet with the agents, if you want to call it that. You walk the runway in front of them, and then show them two of your best shots while walking in a line of about 1,000 people.

I got three call backs out of 30 agencies. I went to my call backs, but the reps were so preoccupied with how many others they had to see that I didn't even get any REAL interviews —and I had a whole portfolio to show them.

I and several others were so disappointed after spending all that money that we wanted our money back, because we weren't satisfied with how Proscout presented the weekend to us.

We were all told that Proscout did their part, and that we couldn't get our money back.

I went to an open call for New York Model Contracts, and realized it was the same thing.

You pay to go to a fancy hotel for a showcase —and your travel, meals, and hotel aren't even paid for.

What they say you are paying for is the agency reps to be flown in and for their hotels.

If you think about it, which I didn't before going to Proscout, that's just free dollars for them to go out and scam thousands more people, because the legit agencies pay for travel expenses of their scouts.

I don't know how many people actually got contracts, but there were a lot of unhappy people, because the weekend wasn't what Proscout made it out to be before we went.

What I expected was all interviews with agency reps, not a bunch of speeches about what it takes to make it.

To all the aspiring models and actors, go to the agencies yourself, and if they ask for money up front, it's not legit. There are reputable ones out there.

As for showcases, you're wasting your time and money, not to mention setting yourself up for disappointment as I did.

I never did get my money back, but I will never fall for that again. I've been to modeling school, paid for photos from an agency I never got work from, and paid to be in an advertisement that claimed every major agency looked at.

Live and learn!

Today, I'm a swimwear model for a very reputable company, but it took me time to find it.

Take Care and Watch Out,

R.O.


To Whom It May Concern:

What do you know about the Proscout Modeling Invitationals?

How legit are they if at all?

J.B.


J.,

Questionable origins, previously misleading advertising, unsubstantiated marketing, conflict of interest, unknown success rates, no guarantees, and no money-back guarantees.

For most people independent scouts are extraneous. Direct access to top agencies is free. You don't need scouts to hold your hand. But you also don't need to start at the biggest and best (which is what they push).

Working up from the small local agencies to the big ones is also a good way to go. It is good for the model; and it is also good for the agency. It worked for Cindy Crawford, for example; she did not go straight to Elite in NY.

Building a strong portfolio through significant work experience can get the attention of major agencies, and the minor ones do contact them to promote their models.

You could try something like Proscout as a last resort, after visiting reputable local agencies or sending pictures to the best agencies in larger markets (if you don't live in a major modeling market).

In most cases, invitationals, showcases, conventions, etc., are definitely not the best place to start. Conventions may be the first thing you hear about but they are most likely the last place you should try.

It makes more sense to start with what is convenient (local) and free (open calls) or very cheap (snapshots).

This is what the president of a top agency recommended and what you'll read in modeling books, etc. I don't think it's something you'll hear from Proscout.

A very good article on breaking into a modeling career reported the professional opinion of an industry leader:

Katie Ford, CEO of Ford Models, Inc., says those interested in modeling should attend open calls at or send snapshots to reputable agencies in large markets. Most big agencies offer open calls at least once a week.

Redacted Info


Dear Proscout and Prospective Proscout Models,

In her book, The Modeling Handbook, Eve Matheson interviewed Brian Marcus, President of Proscout. She wrote, "Brian is very concerned about the increasing number of scams" (p. 184).

Then she quoted Brian Marcus:

People who don't have potential should be told that before their parents mortgage their homes to spend money on events that will lead nowhere.
 
There are conventions and model searches that are respected by the top agencies and others that are pathetic scams.
 
Judge them by their performance.
 
Can the organizers verify which of the top agencies in the world will be represented?
 
Whom have they discovered in the last six months, as opposed to ten years ago?
 
Trust your instincts. Ask questions and see if they can answer them without making false promises.
 
The people I trust in the business are the people who will tell me the pitfalls to avoid.
 
Calling the Better Business Bureau for verification is not the answer. I hate to say this, because I am a member, but all they can tell you is if someone has a bad record. They can't give you any information about the quality and expertise of the people involved.

Questions:

1. How much does Proscout cost?
2. Whom has Proscout discovered in the last six months, as opposed to ten years ago?
3. Why isn't the performance record and success rate of Proscout in the Proscout BBB record, like the MSA success rate is in the BBB record for Model Search America?
4. Does Proscout tell prospective clients (aspiring models and their parents) their success rate before they make any payments?
5. Is Proscout up front about its fees and success rate on the company's website, proscout.com?

Redacted Info


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